YouTube – Direct link to subtitles and HD quality

The linked blog post describes three URL components that you can use in YouTube video links to control subtitles (ie. language), HD and fullscreen playback. I only tested the subtitle language selector hl parameter and unfortunately it does not really work (it works only if you've turned on subtitles previously on some YT video). The hl parameter selects the UI language (if available), which also sets the default CC (closed captions, aka. subtitles) language in case the given video has a CC in the specified language. However the hl parameter does not turn on the display of subtitles automatically (ie. regardless of the user's previous settings)! There's a method to do that, but not yet as an URL parameter.

As described in this YouTube Help post, you can enable/force captions via an embed parameter. For that you've to have full control over the embed code of the given YouTube video. In case you don't want to post the given video on your blog (or any website you own), you can use a free HTML publishing service like pastehtml.com.

Let's see an example. I've loaded a YouTube video ("The Story of Bottled Water") which has been subtitled in Hungarian. I've right-clicked the video and selected "Copy embed html" which copied the video's embed code to the clipboard. Now I've pasted this code into pastehtml.com's textarea and added the cc_load_policy=1 parameter to the end of the YouTube video URL in the embed code.
It became this (I've formatted the embed code for better readability):
<object style="height: 390px; width: 640px">
  <param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/V8UiuC0i6vs?version=3&cc_load_policy=1">
  <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true">
  <param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always">
  <embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/V8UiuC0i6vs?version=3&cc_load_policy=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" width="640" height="390">
</object>

You can watch the result here. The embedded video automatically displays the hungarian closed captions. There's one further step: we did not specify the CC/subtitle language. Using the hl=hu parameter as well we can force the use of Hungarian subs (in case the given video has subtitles in more languages).

That will leave us with the following embed code:
<object style="height: 390px; width: 640px">
  <param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/V8UiuC0i6vs?version=3&cc_load_policy=1&hl=hu">
  <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true">
  <param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always">
  <embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/V8UiuC0i6vs?version=3&cc_load_policy=1&hl=hu" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" width="640" height="390">
</object>

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Thanks

Finally, one clear article on this. Youtube documentation is a bit misleading in this...

Thanks!

It works Smile
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v={video_id}&hl=en&cc_load_policy=1

Re: Thanks!

Hmm. I just tried http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8UiuC0i6vs&hl=hu&cc_load_policy=1 and it didn't turn on captions for me. Shock It still works as I described before: the URL cc_load_policy is only effective if you've enabled captions before (manually). Try testing it with a brand new Firefox profile (i.e. no cookies, cache or history of any YouTube activity).

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